Hopefully you already agree that flowers add appeal to any garden by providing beautiful color, shapes, textures, and scents. However, in addition to aesthetic value, flowers can be also be edible, medicinal, and perhaps most importantly, they can be beneficial for the rest of the plants in your garden. In this episode we talk about growing flowers specifically to attract beneficial insects to your garden. This topic ties a lot of things together. Growing flowers, organic pest management, and pollination for your veggies.
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In this episode, we discuss:
Creating a diverse habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators
Flowers are are helpful addition to the edible garden because they attract pollinators, increase biodiversity, and encourage populations of beneficial insects.
Pollination by insects is essential for many plants to produce healthy fruits and seeds. While there are a few home garden crops that are pollinated by wind (for example corn and other grasses), the majority of your crops are pollinated by flying insects. Without insect pollination most fruits and vegetables will not set fruit at all or the fruit will be incomplete and likely to rot or fall off the plant.
Each species of insect prefers a different set of plants as their source of nutrients, breeding grounds, and habitat. Increased biodiversity of plantings will prevent any one insect species from taking over the garden and help you attract a diverse population of beneficial insects to help create a more balanced garden ecosystem.
There are both annual and perennial beneficial flowers- the types you choose will depend on what makes sense in your space. We always suggest, whatever size your garden is, to keep the perennials in a designated area for ease of maintenance and crop rotation.
We recommended that you designate 5-10% of your garden for beneficial flowers and that you plant the flowers in clusters.
When choosing what flowers to plant, it is important to remember that different flower species, colors and shapes will attract different insects, so make sure you have variety.
If your primary goal is to attract bees: choose plants with blue, purple, and yellow flowers (bees find these colors the most appealing).
The Xerces Society is an international nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. Their website is a great resource if you'd like to learn more about habitat conservation and restoration, species conservation, protecting pollinators, contributing to watershed health, and reducing harm to invertebrates from pesticide use
For photos and details on the flowers we recommend in this episode, check out PLANNING FOR SPRING: BENEFICIAL FLOWERS
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